by Tara Davis

Here in the Deep South, people may be Catholic or Baptist, or die hard SEC football fans, but the unedited truth is, food is our religion. It is the heart and soul of all we do, from birth to death, in every consolation and celebration, it brings us together and solidifies us as a community again and again.

All the best food (and music) are in someone’s home kitchen or in a backyard you’ve probably never visited. Respect and recognition of the sense of community provided in those places and by those experiences inspires and informs all I do in my business.

​It is my belief food shouldn’t be confusing, overwhelming or intimidating-it should accommodate our needs, both physically and socially. Foods of all kinds, healthy, hearty, ethnic, or comfortable can be accessible, affordable, and achievable.

​My approach is often a little wild, slap dash, rustic, off the cuff. The food industry may sometimes see this view as savage, but I embrace the reality that anyone can learn the skills of most trades. Unbridled enthusiasm and wreck-less abandon, however, cannot be taught.

A kitchen without a good cast iron skillet and a sharp knife should reexamine its purpose. Always learn, grow, and feed the passion that is community.

A couple of recipes I had in the homes of folks you may or may not have ever heard of:

Basic bread:

In a large bowl, dissolve 1/4 oz active dry yeast in 2.25 cups warm water. Add 3 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp salt, 2 Tbsp oil and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in 3.5 cups more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.  Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.  Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf.  Place in two greased 9×5-in. loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes.  Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Slow cooker granola:

In a 4-qt. slow cooker, combine 4.5 cups old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup each almonds, pecans and walnuts.  Mix 1/3 cup each honey and water, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and salt to taste. Stir into oat mixture.  Cook, covered, on high until crisp, 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.  Stir in 1/3cup cranberries.  Spread evenly onto waxed paper or baking sheets; cool completely. Store in airtight containers. If desired, serve with yogurt.

Thank you for reading!